Last night, the Washington Post reported that Donald Trump mistook a photograph of E. Jean Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples. This would rather seem to undercut his oft-repeated insistence that he could not possibly have sexually assaulted the advice columnist because she was “not my type.”
“You’re saying Marla is in this photo?” asked Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, during a deposition in October.
“That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” Trump repeated, on being shown the now-famous 80s-era photo of Trump and Carroll chatting at a party, along with their spouses.”
“No, that’s Carroll,” Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba interjected.
“That’s Carroll?” Trump responds a moment later, “Because —”
But then the interview excerpt cuts off like a cliffhanger. And at the bottom of the cliff is probably something more batcrap and/or incriminating than we could ever guess.
And while the stability of the former president’s genius was particularly apparent in that exchange, none of this deposition makes him look like a good witness.
This is the second time in a week we’ve gotten a peek at formerly sealed transcripts from Carroll’s defamation and battery case against Trump. In October, Trump shot his mouth off again about Carroll, and in November, New York’s Adult Survivors Act came into effect, granting a one-year period for sexual abuse victims to bring tort claims which would otherwise be time barred. Carroll then filed a second defamation lawsuit adding a battery claim.
The two lawsuits are now consolidated for trial in April, and, in their discussion over additional discovery necessary, Carroll’s lawyers attached hundreds of pages of sealed deposition testimony to their filings. It does not appear to have occurred to Trump’s team that the protective order covering deposition testimony would not guarantee that it remained sealed on the federal docket.
Last week, Judge Lewis Kaplan unsealed an extremely gross excerpt in which Trump mischaracterized Carroll as saying that “rape is sexy.” And yesterday, we got another 49 pages demonstrating yet again why the former president is a terrible witness.
He repeatedly admits that the had no basis for believing the things he said about her:
KAPLAN: Before issuing your statement on June 21, did you learn what political party Ms. Carroll belonged to?
TRUMP: No, I didn’t know that.
KAPLAN: Before you issued your June 21 statement, did you have any documents indicating that she was pursuing a political agenda?
He confesses that he reaffirmed the allegedly defamatory statement after leaving office “because I was offended at this woman’s lie,” undercutting his argument that he was acting in his official capacity when he told reporters that he wouldn’t have raped her because she wasn’t his “type.”
He promises to sue Carroll and her lawyer:
TRUMP: And I posted and I will continue to post until such time as — and then I will sue her after this is over, and that’s the thing I really look forward to doing.· And I’ll sue you too because this is — how many cases do you have?· Many, many cases, and I know the statements that were made — that you made.
And he appears to justify making the most outrageous, dubiously accurate statements about women who accused him of sexual misconduct:
TRUMP: I don’t want to be insulting, but when people accuse me of something, I think I have a right to be insulting, because they’re insulting me. They’re doing the ultimate insult. They make up stories and then I’m not allowed to speak my mind? No, I disagree with that.
Along the way, his lawyers demonstrated exactly how they managed to piss off Judge Kaplan (and Justice Engoron, and Judge Middlebrooks, and Judge Sannes …). At one point, Trump’s attorney Alina Habba insisted that conversations with his daughter Ivanka about the Carroll case were “privileged.” At another, her colleague Michael Madaio attempted to assert a relevance objection in deposition:
KAPLAN: What’s your objection, sir?
MADAIO: It’s an objection based on relevance.
KAPLAN: There’s no relevance objections at depositions.
MADAIO: Well, to the form of the question.
This trial is going to be amazingly gross. And also … just plain amazing.
Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.